Monday, June 30, 2003




Memo to the Publix store on Macon Road: It's spelled HERSHEY, as in the chocolate syrup you had on display. It's not spelled "HERSEY," as your sign had it. Hersey Hawkins has been out of pro basketball so long, his endorsements have run out.

Misspellings at a supermarket are something I simply cannot grasp. Don't the staff members read the labels on the items they're stacking and promoting? Are they ALL waiting to sign Arena Football contracts?

But to our topic: I was a bit troubled as I picked up a couple of items at Publix Sunday -- troubled by the news that NAACP leaders might call for a boycott of the state of Alabama. It's troubling because I've preached against state-line discrimination for so long, and now a civil rights group might demand I practice it.

There's talk of an Alabama boycott because Governor Bob Riley vetoed a bill restoring voting rights to many convicted felons who have finished their sentences. We can understand the NAACP's concern about this. If it's good enough for former Governor Guy Hunt, why not everybody else?

As scary as this sounds, somebody's gotta ask the question - do civil rights boycotts work? The Rainbow/PUSH Coalition called one against Columbus-area Piggly Wiggly stores five years ago. Yet the last time I checked, all the stores were still open - and I don't recall any of them even having a "Juneteenth Sale."

You may recall South Carolina already is the target of a civil rights boycott, because of the location of a Confederate flag in Columbia. So why aren't any college sports teams forfeiting road games to Clemson?

Imagine all the things that could happen, if the NAACP declares a boycott of Alabama:

+ More and more people will drive to Columbus to play lottery games - only they'll pitch tents, instead of going back home.

+ Ameris might never get that new Phenix City hospital built - because no one will want to live there.

+ The Georgia-Auburn football series could be suspended every other year - freeing up the Tigers to pummel U.A.B. or Alabama State.

BIG PREDICTION UPDATE:We didn't realize until we read Sunday's Ledger-Enquirer that the new Miss Georgia was a salesperson for Clear Channel Radio in Savannah. If she works for Clear Channel, we're surprised her platform isn't handing over the government to big business monopolies.

Another leftover note from the pageant is what happened to "Miss Gwinnett County." Lauren Jollay won preliminary events two nights in a row, yet she didn't even place in the final five. Either she must have a lousy-looking swimsuit -- or she treated the interview like she was a contestant on "The Bachelor."

Sunday, June 29, 2003


I searched on the Internet, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. (Well, other than a 15-year-old high school student, and who knows how much he pays attention to the news?) So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for some six years, as
well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called LaughLine.Com, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own; no one has paid me to present theirs. Pressured, yes - but paid, no.



Driving down Wynnton Road Saturday night, an electronic sign told me a new Chinese buffet restaurant is "COMMING soon." When I see things like this, I'm reminded why Columbus students don't win national spelling bees.

Local TV programs aren't much better. "Real Time" from Cascade Hills Church focused on the book of Daniel Saturday night - only on the screen, they kept spelling it "DANIAL." If he'd converted to a Muslim, maybe Dani-Al might be appropriate....

Spelling difficulties have been open and chronic for as long as I've been in Columbus. For years I drove up Wynnton Hill, and passed an office building that misspelled accounting as "ACCOUNTNIG." Would you trust your bottom-line numbers to someone who switches letters?

In our high-tech age, you can "SpellCheck" your work on a computer to make sure everything's correct. But those checkers aren't perfect, either. Believe it or not, the other day it suggested I call the deceased Georgia Governor Lester MADHOUSE. [True!]

That's why I was glad Friday to see the Heritage Inn on Veterans Parkway finally fixed its spelling of "America" atop its roof. But the more I think about it, I wonder if that misspelling was intentional - to throw al-Qaeda bombers off the track.

OK, you're probably thinking I take matters of spelling personally because of my last name. "Burkard" admittedly gets changed a lot on my mail -- with an extra H, an extra T, and even an occasional N. What got me, though, was how a Columbus church I attended misspelled my last name over and over. The Deacon who put together the bulletin didn't ask
me for years what was right.

BIG PREDICTION UPDATE: Savannah?! Miss Savannah was named Miss Georgia?? Uhhhh - would you believe I misspelled it "Albany?"

Congratulations to Andrea Bailey, who was crowned Miss Georgia 2003 Saturday night. The Miss Georgia web site says her platform is: "The American Red Cross - a Symbol of Hope." If she really believes that, shouldn't her "talent" be a blood donation?

Clearing the desk of some other items from the weekend:

+ WCGT-TV 16 posted a notice on the screen, saying its regular programming is suspended until a new transmitter is installed. We mention this for the eight of you who actually WATCH TV-16....

(So if they're waiting on a new transmitter before resuming programming, how in the world am I able to see the notice on the screen now? I don't even have cable.)

+ Much of Auburn lost power for more than an hour, because a snake damaged a transformer. The Cottonmouths should know better than to try promotional stunts like this.

+ The annual "Purple and Gold" golf tournament began at Fort Benning. After the demise of the Lakers, I'm personally rooting for the purple this year.

Friday, June 27, 2003




Today is a big day for thousands of downtown Columbus drivers, as a new bridge opens on Veterans Parkway. We're now waiting for Lonnie Jackson and Jim Rhodes to suggest the bridge be named after them.

The ribbon was cut around 10:00 a.m. to open the new Veterans Parkway bridge, between 15th and 18th Streets. There's some good public relations - wait to do it until AFTER morning rush hour.

I wanted to be among the first to drive on the new bridge - yet when I reached it at 10:20 a.m., it was still barricaded! Then I remembered one of the most important rules of events like this. Politicians have to give speeches first.

Around to Second Avenue I went - and traffic was narrowed to one lane, as city crews took down a detour sign for U.S. 27. C'mon now, first things first....

A police officer allowed me to park along the side of Veterans Parkway and walk up the bridge to the ribbon-cutting ceremony. So I couldn't be among the first drivers - but I was among a few dozen who could stand in the middle of the new bridge, without getting run over.

Several major officials attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Rep. Calvin Smyre and Mayor Bob Poydasheff were there in suits and ties, while City Manager Carmen Cavezza wore a casual sportshirt. It's easy to tell which person has job security....

One reporter at the ceremony wanted me to point out how humid it was atop the new bridge. Maybe they should have made the overpass about 100 feet taller, like that new bridge in Brunswick.

Drivers on Veterans Parkway have taken detours for two years, while a railroad underpass in the area of 16th Street was turned into an overpass. So why does it take state road crews two years, while Fort Benning soldiers can set up a bridge in a combat zone in about two days?

Since I live near downtown, I've had to deal with the detours around the Veterans Parkway construction. If I was in a hurry, I'd use Second Avenue. If I was in a gambling mood, I'd use Fifth Avenue - and risk waiting half-an-hour for trains to clear.

It turns out a car drove across the new Veterans Parkway bridge several months ago, BEFORE it officially opened. The driver claimed he lost control of his car, he bailed out of the driver's seat - and the car sailed driver-less across the bridge, taking down a McDonald's sign at 14th Street! Some residents privately wished the driver had aimed for the Water Works office instead.

The Veterans Parkway bridge project killed several businesses in the neighborhood. Money Back tore down a convenience store at 15th and "The Vet," which included the "Frisky Whiskey" liquor shop. [True!] I never could understand the idea of
selling dog food and booze in the same place.

One gas station has remained open throughout the Veterans Parkway construction. The Crown station at 15th and The Vet now stands to be a big winner - which makes me afraid the price of regular gas there is about to go up 15 cents.

Have you stopped to consider the potential LOSERS, with the opening of this new bridge? Three downtown churches post their Sunday sermon titles on Second Avenue by Thursday each week. Now drivers won't shop around for the most interesting topic anymore.

(A couple of other places might lose business, as the new bridge opens. People tired of staying at the Salvation Army and House of Mercy will have a new place to sleep.)

All kidding aside, I'd like to suggest the new bridge on Veterans Parkway be named after former Columbus Mayor Bobby Peters. After all, he lives on First Avenue - so he can appreciate the end of detours more than anybody.

Since I moved to Columbus, three new downtown bridges have opened: 13th Street across the river, Second Avenue and the new Veterans Parkway bridge. So what's next? Oh yeah - the bridge along the Phenix City Riverwalk is still shut down.

(Please now, don't suggest that OTHER downtown bridge needs replacing. Every time I jog across the Dillingham Bridge, I feel like I've accomplished something.)

Mike Gaymon of the Chamber of Commerce floated an interesting transportation idea the other day - a hub at Columbus Metropolitan Airport for planes, trains and buses. BUSES?! How can he expect Greyhound to take passengers to the airport, when METRA doesn't even run there now?

I write from personal experience, when it comes to METRA. I rented a car from Avis for a vacation four years ago, and decided to take a bus to the airport to pick it up. The closest METRA comes is the Airport Thruway Wal-Mart store. From there, you have to walk -- and there's no sidewalk! And people still wonder why Atlanta gets so much business....

Speaking of transportation: as I paid for a 44-ounce drink at RaceTrac Thursday afternoon (still the best soda price in town), the woman behind the counter muttered something about "getting a baseball bat" - then excused herself and ran out the door. I thought for a second Lester Maddox had come back to life.

It turns out the RaceTrac employee was chasing a driver with an Alabama tag, who was driving off without paying for gas. She came back inside short of breath, but with the tag number. If only they'd let the staff have blowdarts, to shoot out the tires of these crooks.

Thursday evening was a time for some running of my own, on the Columbus Riverwalk. As I passed the wood-bench amphitheater near Sixth Street, I was surprised to find trash cans filled with ten CiCi's Pizza boxes. You can always tell where the Miss Georgia contestants eat dinner....

As I cooled down after the run, I walked along Fourth Street and was surprised again. An official "South Atlantic League" baseball was sitting on the grass along the wall of Villa Nova - across the four-lane highway from Golden Park! Either someone hit a huge home run, or a city official was really upset to learn the Waves are negotiating with a city in Ohio.

BLOG UPDATE: While I stood on the new bridge, I noticed the Heritage Inn on Veterans Parkway finally has fixed its sign on the roof - and is spelling "America" correctly. (22 Feb) Even more amazingly, they kept the spelling of "Inn" with two N's.

BIG PREDICTION UPDATE: Well, whaddaya know - Miss Albany won a preliminary event Wednesday night at the Miss Georgia pageant. Not braggin' here, simply reporting....

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Burkard's Blog of Columbus, Georgia


I searched on the Internet, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. (Well, other than a 15-year-old high school student, and who knows how much he pays attention to the news?) So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for some six years, as
well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called LAUGHLINE.COM, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own; no one has paid me to present theirs. Pressured, yes - but paid, no.



Former Georgia Governor Lester Maddox died Wednesday -- only two days after the death of former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson. At least people won't have to choose which funeral to attend. They'll draw two different crowds.

A former girlfriend of mine told me of the day she ate at a metro Atlanta restaurant in the 1980's, and saw Lester Maddox walking around the tables. He left literature urging people to mark Robert E. Lee's birthday in January, instead of Martin Luther King's. Apparently it didn't work - because I don't see Georgians waving white flags of surrender then.

At the height of the civil rights tension, Lester Maddox was to Georgia what George Wallace was to Alabama. But there WERE some differences in the men. Governor Wallace repented of his actions, and has all sorts of things in Alabama named after him. All Governor Maddox has is a realty office, in a mostly-white area of metro Atlanta.

Did you see the old film of Lester Maddox riding a bicycle BACKWARDS at a baseball field? The symbolism in that scene really doesn't need any explanation....

(Then again, maybe this was the stunt the South Georgia Waves needed to increase attendance. It sure would bring in busloads from Taylor County.)

Some Georgians are upset that Governor Perdue ordered state flags lowered to half-staff in memory of Lester Maddox, when he did NOT do so for Maynard Jackson. [True/Georgia Public Radio] But look on the bright side - the Governor could have ordered the old flags to fly again.

As it happened, I cried more tears Wednesday afternoon than I had in a long time. No, not for Lester Maddox - but because I went to the eye doctor. (And that was BEFORE I saw the bill!)

It had been three years since my last eye exam, so I was overdue. If I waited between eye exams as long as I've waited between dental checkups, I'd need a helmet to keep from bumping into walls.

This eye doctor on Woodruff Road makes you fill out a three-page form - including one affirming you read the office's six-page "notice of privacy practices." Why don't they simply save time, and print that notice in the form of an eye chart?

The tears came after I was ushered back toward the eye doctor's office. An aide examined my eyes with a bright light, then blew a puff of air into each one. I wish they'd restrict that sort of treatment to Sugar Pops cereal.

Then it was on to the examination room, where a nice-looking man wearing a coat and tie came in to check me. The man never mentioned his name - and for a patient as nearsighted as I am, at least he could have worn a name tag with giant print.

I've worn glasses since I was in Kindergarten, so I knew this part of the drill well. Does this lens make it better or worse? Are you seeing two lines or one? Can you read the bottom line of tiny type - otherwise known as the fine print on the discount coupons?

This optical office is NOT one of those "one-hour glasses" places. In fact, the eye doctor assured me he could wait on the money until my next paycheck. Why do people like this wind up as optometrists - and not electric utility executives?

My one-hour concern came up when the eye doctor prepared to dilate my eyes. I moved away from LensCrafters for this exam because of the way they dilate eyes, then have you go out and pick a set of frames -- when you're practically too blind to read the price tags.

The eye doctor assured me I could choose frames tomorrow, if I wished. Then he dilated my eyes, and left me in the exam room alone for about 20 minutes. When I noticed an extra mirror near the ceiling in that room, I watched what I said under my breath VERY carefully.

(A long wait like that makes you wonder if the eye doctor's waiting for the dilation fluid to work - or if he forgot about you, or stepped outside for a cigarette.)

I took a magazine to the optical office, so I read an article CLOSE-UP without glasses while I waited. All that was there to amuse me was a large "E" on the screen. These cable channels will stop at nothing to get free advertising.....

That big E became blurrier and blurrier as the dilation fluid took hold - so I suppose the "e" stood for erosion.

The eye doctor eventually reported something puzzling about my eyesight. My current glasses have a vertical correction in one direction, but his reading showed it needed to be in the other direction. I would have been satisfied with a different kind of vertical correction - to make me about three inches taller.

With my current glasses still in my possession, the dilation fluid wasn't bad enough to keep me from picking frames on the spot. But then came the biggest shock - the lenses, frames and extra treatments were going to cost me more than 450 dollars, WITH a discount coupon! No wonder the staff kept asking me insurance questions....

I asked "Jenny, certified optician" (she DID have a name-tag) to find me some less expensive frames to cut my costs. None of the ones in the rack had any prices on them. At least at LensCrafters the frames are organized by price -- even though the office is a long way from the "Dollar Tree" store.

One of the coupons in my custody offered an "eyeglass and contact special" for ONLY $179. But Jenny explained a missing detail - that was for "single-vision lenses." My eyesight is so bad, the problem either is double-vision or double-pricing.

Even with the less expensive frames, my final score at the eye doctor was $450. I left facing a big decision -- do I go on from there to the Rich's-Macy's one-day sale? Or do I even bother, since my budget is already blown up?

It turns out I settled for one more splurge: a large Sonic drink, in hopes of winning something in their 50th anniversary giveaway. I wound up with a two-for-one drink coupon -- so I couldn't even drive home yelling, "I won a cherry limeade! I won a cherry limeade!"

BLOG CORRECTION: It turns out the old Long John Silver's building in the 4300 block of Veterans Parkway actually is
occupied by the Best Pawn shop. So it's gone from "fish planks" to people walking the financial plank....

Wednesday, June 25, 2003




So if I didn't eat at Long John Silver's, you ask, where DID I go? Tuesday night I picked up dinner at Burger King - in fact, at TWO of them. It was like the old-time church "progressive dinner." Only it was without a church, and neither place knew about it.

Have you used all the Burger King coupons you were mailed several weeks ago? The deadline is next Monday, but the fine print says you can only use one coupon per visit. I thought about staging a "B-K 500," and running laps through the drive-through lane - but they only mailed about a dozen coupons.

(I also thought about bringing up one of Burger King's old slogans - but the people on duty probably don't remember the line, "Sometimes you've just gotta break the rules.")

So how did I play by Burger King's rules for a two-sandwich, two-coupon dinner? I used one coupon in the 1200 block of
Veterans Parkway - then took a short drive to Wynnton Road, and used the other one! That'll teach them to set up a public address system, connecting every restaurant in town.

A check of the receipts revealed something interesting about my two-restaurant dinner. The downtown Burger King is store #1325, while the Wynnton Road location is store #3320. This is amazing, since that building on Wynnton looks SO much older....

(I'm pleased to report a Whopper with coupon and tax cost $1.05 at each restaurant. The evening crews are not guilty of any profiteering.)

No, you may NOT review my receipts from the two Burger Kings. The times on them indicate I was at Wynnton Road less than two minutes after I left the drive-through on Veterans Parkway - and I absolutely will NOT be framed for speeding like this.

Speaking of dinner: WRBL's 11:00 p.m. news Tuesday showed a teenager preparing a Subway sandwich - as the reporter said he's "working the hoagie line." Hoagie?!?! At that place, they're called "SUBS" - for a reason.

The WRBL reporter also showed some important tips (ones you've probably NEVER considered) for finding a job. One of them said: "Be prepared to explain why you!" Why I WHAT? Can't speak or write a complete sentence??

COMING THURSDAY: We visit the eye doctor for the first time in three years....

To comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Burkard's Blog of Columbus, Georgia


I searched on the Internet, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. (Well, other than a 15-year-old high school student, and who knows how much he pays attention to the news?) So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for some six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own; no one has paid me to present theirs. Pressured, yes - but paid, no.



A new KFC-Long John Silver's restaurant opened today on South Lumpkin Road. Residents of Columbus could guess right away what that means - you won't be able to park anywhere near it for six weeks.

Many new big-name restaurants on the north side of Columbus have drawn big crowds, so I wanted to see what a new Long John Silver's on the south side would do. Amazingly, I was able to park near the door during lunch hour -- and without any special police help.

Long John Silver's seafood shops were in Columbus years ago. Now they're back after about a ten-year absence, only they're mixed in the same building with a KFC. No wonder the staff received days of training - because frozen chicken strips and fish pieces can look SO much alike.

(So if Kentucky Fried Chicken is KFC, why isn't Long John Silver's LJS? Is this done so customers won't get confused, and think it's run by Mormons?)

The menu is split inside this mixed restaurant - KFC on the left, Long John Silver's on the right. In fact, the LJS side includes "chicken planks." If some employee mixes them with the "Colonel's Strips," a long-secret recipe finally might come out.

I looked around inside the new restaurant for a couple of minutes, then stepped out to run another errand. "Line too long for you?" asked an employee at the door. Well no, it really wasn't. But I thought at a big restaurant opening in Columbus, you merely had to be SEEN -- not necessarily buy anything.

There's a unique touch outside the KFC-LJS building on South Lumpkin Road: a sixties-style round clock on the wall, with "YUM!" in neon lights. It almost looks like they bought it from one of those antique gift shops down the street - or maybe from the Goodwill store for three bucks.

There was a quite a line in the drive-through lane at the new KFC-LJS. I forgot to check the cars - to see if they were Harris County license plates, and the drivers are too embarrassed to park on South Lumpkin Road.

The new restaurant on South Lumpkin Road reflects a trend in other U.S. cities, with several fast-food names located under one roof. I first saw this in New York years ago - and wondered when Arby's and Dunkin Donuts would come out with a combined roast beef muffin.

If you look carefully, you still can find traces of old Long John Silver's restaurants around Columbus. The shape of one of them is on Veterans Parkway, just south of Manchester Expressway. I believe it's now a realty office - but I doubt there's a drive-through mortgage lane.

For the time being, the south side of Columbus can boast of having a big-name restaurant the north side doesn't have. Long John Silver's becomes a second big selling point - besides the fact that buzz cuts are cheaper near Fort Benning.

Speaking of dining: the name "Houlihan's" was painted on the wall outside the downtown Wyndham hotel the other day. It should open later this summer on Broadway - unless we find out the Fellini family married into the Houlihan family, and they object to that name as well.

BLOG UPDATE:Congratulations to Rod Bramblett, the newly-named voice of Auburn University football and basketball. After all those years in the studio doing pre and post-game shows, he'll finally get to see the Tigers in person.

Congratulations also to Columbus Police, for catching a suspect in last Friday's bicycle bank robbery. If that man is guilty, he should get at least ten years -- attached to a bike rack outside a grade school.

BIG PREDICTION: I'm asking for it after correctly picking Miss Universe (4 Jun) - but I'm drawn for some reason to "Miss Albany" Kellye Bradshaw to win this week's Miss Georgia pageant. Now to find the right cologne, so she'll be drawn to ME.

Monday, June 23, 2003




I did something Sunday afternoon I hadn't done in about ten years. I pulled my racquetball racquet out of the bedroom closet - and did more than simply dust it off and put it back.

For the first time in years, I had a racquetball workout. The last time I did that sort of thing, large numbers of people still actually played racquetball.

Did you realize the Columbus Parks Department has public outdoor handball/racquetball courts? There are two of them hiding in Benning Park, across the street from Baker Village Apartments -- where admittedly the only "courts" many residents know are basketball courts and Recorder's Court.

I drove to Benning Park at about 12:45 p.m., and found hardly anyone there. A police car was parked outside the Recreation Center -- which, come to think of it, might explain why hardly anyone was there.

The two racquetball courts at Benning Park are on opposite sides of a wall, which is about 30 feet high. I chose the court facing west, next to the parking spaces -- so I could monitor my car for visitors at all times.

The east court at Benning Park has several things which make it unlike any racquetball court you'll ever play at a YMCA:

+ A blue line is spray-painted across the wall, about three feet high. So apparently the Crips work out here....

+ A blotch of red paint is on the court, just past the entry gate. At least I assumed it was paint - it seemed thicker than blood.

+ Along the wall there's a spray-painted green outline of a small human body, apparently face down. [True!] Either someone dove for a ball in vain and hit his head - or police detectives need to clean up crime scenes a little better.

Yes, I DID check the west racquetball court. It had a bit of gang graffiti on a sidewall, and three crosses on the main wall. Well, I WAS facing east - but this seems like a strange way to hold an Easter sunrise service.

I ran around, swung, missed, and actually had a couple of sustained rallies in my half-hour racquetball workout. Only one of my hits went over the top of the wall - so I could celebrate hitting a home run.

A small child watched a few minutes of my workout, standing outside a fence. I'm not sure what intrigued him more - seeing someone play racquetball, or seeing a white guy in that part of town.

A good stimulating workout ended after 30 minutes. I stopped for three reasons: 1) I wasn't wearing a hat on a bright sunny day. 2) I didn't put on any suntan lotion. 3) The longer I stayed, the more time criminals had to plan their strategy.

It was a sparking sunny Sunday. A nice breeze was blowing, I'd just played racquetball outdoors and Ritmo Latino Radio was playing shoulder-swaying salsa music on the car radio. For a minute with my sunglasses on, I felt like I was in Miami - but then I realized there weren't any bagel shops for miles around.

I refreshed myself after the workout by driving to RaceTrac on Victory Drive. At this time of year, I don't really care which station has the best gas price. At 79 cents for all sizes, the best SODA price is what matters.

Sad to say, RaceTrac was out of the largest-size soda cup. As I told a couple of people inside, "I'm having a 32, on a 44-kind-of-day."

Now a quick check of how other people's days went Sunday:

+ We went to the Bradley Library - and who should walk out the front door carrying a couple of books but Dick McMichael! He must have finished "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" faster than anybody in town.

+ The Ledger-Enquirer had a feature article on Al Fleming - asking now that his Al Who's nightclub is sold, "will he stay out of the limelight?" A headline like this proves NBC-38 commentaries are NOT the limelight.

+ The "Bishop Bishop" religious telecast from Auburn on TV-66 featured a ponytailed woman standing behind the preacher, jerking her body around and waving a white handkerchief. This must be what happens when the TV cameras don't show your sign at the sports event.

COMING TUESDAY: A new restaurant opens in Columbus - and we plan to be there....

Sunday, June 22, 2003


I searched on the Internet, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. (Well, other than a 15-year-old high school student, and who knows how much he pays attention to the news?) So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for some six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own; no one has paid me to present theirs. Pressured, yes - but paid, no.



It was just after 9:00 Saturday night when I went running on the Riverwalk, south of Golden Park. No barricade stopped me from going down the stairs - but when I came up almost a mile later, a big wide barricade stopped my run completely. A jogger I am. A hurdler like Edwin Moses I'm not.

The dirt has returned to the Riverwalk, after the high water of a few days ago. And before you ask - no, I don't mean panhandlers looking for dinner money.

(The way the weather's been going, this year's Independence Day celebration may have to be called "Galoshes on the Hooch.")

I found a couple of folks fishing on the Riverwalk at Golden Park, as my run began. Supposedly higher water improves your chances of catching fish. But on the fast-moving Chattahoochee, I fear it also improves your chances of getting catching your line on a loose tire and getting thrown in.

I left the Riverwalk at the South Commons softball fields - and there was a good crowd of players and cars. If all those folks went to a South Georgia Waves game, the attendance might double.

I picked up the jog for a few blocks around the Civic Center, as a few people were walking out from the Wardogs game. Imagine how surprised I was when I reached the car - and found they left because the Wardogs had a big LEAD for a change.

The Waves were out of town, but there was still a game going on in the twilight outside Golden Park. Two dads were tossing what looked like softballs with their young children. "It's like golf," one dad said. Whereupon he started to throw - and I whistled to distract him, just like the U.S. Open.

.(I did my best to add to the "golf" mood, by praising the toddler's little tosses in a deep whispered British accent.)

All in all, the run went well - helped by a refreshing north breeze for the first evening of summer. Longtime Columbus residents who didn't know better might have thought they'd died, and gone to Minnesota.

The post-run dinner took us to Hickory House Barbecue, at U.S. 80 and 280 in Phenix City. Their large barbecue beef sandwich was SO big that pieces of chopped meat fell out of the bun - and pieces of fat and gristle couldn't get between your teeth.

On the counter at Hickory House Barbecue, I picked up a coupon for a free bowling game (not again!). But strangely, it was good at Peach Bowl - not Bama Lanes, a couple miles down the 280 Bypass. Phenix City must have a bigger north-south gap than I realized.

(Ever stranger: the restaurant had to add a "Y" to the coupon - because the printer spelled it "Hickor House." Well, at least they remembered the O-R.)

Checking other fun facts from the first weekend from summer:

+ A CB&T branch on Tenth Avenue was robbed by a man, who got away on a bicycle. So we can see why he needed the
money - gas prices are simply too high.

(Our CB&T, uh, "checking" found the Tenth Avenue branch now has been robbed five times in the last six years. And people STILL oppose national health insurance?!)

+ "The Rocky Horror Show" appeared on stage at the RiverCenter. Wow, P-FLAG really IS gaining a following in Columbus.

+ During Saturday night's "Real Time" telecast, "Galatians 5:23" supposedly was displayed on the screen - but the words and Pastor Bill Purvis's comments were from Matthew or some other book. How big a donation will it take, to buy Bibles for the control room?

BIG PREDICTION UPDATE: We put the silent clock on our Pastor during the weekend service - and sure enough, he talked for more than four minutes about the new Harry Potter book. He found it especially sad that English-speaking countries are taking the lead in buying Potter books. If only J.K. Rowling lived in France....

For some curious reason, my Pastor read background about the new Harry Potter book from the "Jerusalem Post" newspaper. If anyplace could use a magic spell, Jerusalem could - to calm down Hamas.

My Pastor quoted from the Jerusalem Post, in which some book experts said the Harry Potter series soon will outsell the Bible. My Pastor considers that a sad sign of the times. Trouble is, the Latter-day Saints wrote a Bible sequel -- and he doesn't like the "Book of Mormon," either.

Friday, June 20, 2003




Our sympathies to radio talk show host Russ Hollenbeck, whose father died this week. Our condolences as well to WRCG Radio - for running out of people to fill in for him on "Talk Line."

We were surprised Thursday morning at 10:05 a.m. to hear Neal Boortz on WRCG, instead of Talk Line. We had to call the station to confirm what happened to the local talk show - because we thought Archway Broadcasting might have dropped it, to buy a couple more radio stations.

Russ Hollenback was the call screener and producer of Talk Line, then moved over to host the show. So why can't HIS
screener/producer fill in when he's away? Other people on Channel 16 have shown you don't have to worry about having a "face for radio."

Where is Jerry Laquire at a time like this, to fill in on Talk Line as he has before? His nightly TV show on WCGT was dropped several months ago. Maybe he's trying to get a new show with Al Fleming -- "Point, Point and Point Some More."

WRCG still has several people on the staff who could have filled in on Talk Line:

+ Robbie Watson has told me she'd rather do news, than host a talk show. That's too bad - because she has a great loud voice for provoking upset callers.

+ Mike Vee has a sports show in the afternoon - but from what he's said about hockey, he'd simply encourage everybody to beat each other up.

+ D.J. Jones co-hosts the sports show with Vee - but having him host Talk Line? Check the top-left corner of today's Ledger-Enquirer front page for the reason why not.... (ahem)

The lack of Talk Line meant Columbus radio had absolutely no local talk shows about the news of the day. Well, there might be one exception - but Jim Foster on WMLF rambles on and on, without taking any phone calls.

And speaking of WRCG talk shows - Q: Why does Bill O'Reilly never go to laundromats?

A: All the washers have spin cycles!

As for other talkers - are you watching the two-part "Nightline" report about teenage preachers, including Columbus's Ben Shuler? ABC News probably is surprising people with this series. For one thing, not one liberal has appeared yet to call them misguided idiots.

Did we hear it right - Ben Shuler entered a national preaching competition at Grace Christian School to meet a "fine arts"
requirement?! We never thought of preaching as a fine art. But then again, some ministers in African-American churches DO break out in song during sermons.

(For those of you who don't consider preaching a "fine art" - well, now you know how the rest of us felt when those anti-Christian paintings went up at New York galleries.)

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Burkard's Blog of Columbus, Georgia


I searched on the Internet, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. (Well, other than a 15-year-old high school student, and who knows how much he pays attention to the news?) So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for some six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own; no one has paid me to present theirs. Pressured, yes - but paid, no.



I jogged to the Riverwalk for a run this morning - and found the path in downtown Columbus covered with water again. City crews need to hurry and put up signs, warning low-income parents this is NOT a free swimming pool.

Apparently four inches of rain in Troup County in two days were enough to flood streets and homes there -- and send high water downstream to Columbus. So I guess you could phrase it this way: "The rain in LaGrange stays mainly away from drains."

Columbus city crews have spent about six weeks cleaning up the Riverwalk from the larger flooding in May. That meant dropping a lot of sand on either side of the path, to replant grass. When I saw it, I thought the city was planning a big welcome-back beach party.

Speaking of "Atmos-pheric conditions:" As I wrote my monthly natural gas check Wednesday night, I'd finally had enough. The numbers were simply too big! Not what I was paying - but the account number.

Every month Atmos Energy's envelopes remind you: "Write account number on check." Have you stopped to count how many digits that number has? I did - and mine has 19 of them! I'm surprised this company doesn't change its name back to "United Cities Gas Company," to make sure EVERY line on the check is filled completely.

If you wrote out the current world population of about six billion people, you'd need only ten digits -- for example, 6,000,000,000. So why do Atmos Energy's account numbers need 19 digits? Are they serving space aliens on other planets, without telling anybody?

(Come to think of it, major credit cards have 16 digits on them. But I can understand that, because some women seem to have hundreds of them.)

Atmos Energy sent out a news release the other day, already warning natural gas prices will be higher next winter than they were this past winter. Talk about giving a whole new meaning to "Atmos-fear."

(Remember, you can prepare now for this winter's high natural gas prices. This is the best time of the year to buy a sweater on sale.)

Awhile back someone suggested I check how much the Columbus city government pays Atmos Energy to keep the "eternal flame for our veterans" lit outside the Government Center. "I hate that thing," the man admitted. The man did NOT tell me his name and address - since if he did, he'd probably have to enter a "witness protection program."

The man said the city of Columbus is in effect subsidizing Atmos Energy, by paying them every month for the eternal flame. So why doesn't Atmos lobby to put these flames in every city in Georgia? Then maybe our natural gas bills might go down.

(Wouldn't you love to visit this man's house -- to see his charcoal-grill water heater?) .

E-MAIL UPDATE: "Sorry... no mirrors on my computer monitor... [1 Jun] there's no room... with all of the pictures of me attached to it. Funny stuff! Blaine" [Stewart]

We're glad Blaine Stewart is a good sport about these things - and we hope he and WRBL find a JUNIOR Consumer Investigator very quickly. Otherwise, his "Senior" title might give away his real age.

BIG PREDICTION: I predict my Pastor will bring up the new Harry Potter book at church this weekend - and be against it. This will come only one week after he praised the founding fathers for supporting freedom of religion.

To comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, June 16, 2003



I knew I would find it somewhere Sunday, and I did. There on the kitchen floor was a tiny Subway "Sub Club" stamp - the one I lost over the weekend, which deprived me of a free sandwich. Maybe Jared's exercise to lose all those pounds was walking around his house, to find missing stamps.

I rounded up my Sub Club stamps Saturday night at dinner time, after having them loose and unsorted for months. I had enough stamps for a free sandwich - if I could convince the staff the various colors were due to spilling a lot of fruit punch.

Eight stamps equals a free Subway sandwich these days - so I stuck the stamps on the card, put it in my pocket and walked from the bedroom area to the kitchen. Then I pulled out the card, and one stamp was missing! The worst part was, I couldn't blame it on a conspiracy by ANY political group.

I actually crawled around on the living room floor, looking for that less-than-one-square-inch Subway stamp. After all, a three-dollar sandwich was at stake here -- and believe it or not, I have not read ANY of Clark Howard's books.

I eventually gave up on the freebie, and walked a few blocks in the rain to pay full price for a Subway sandwich. I told the woman at the restaurant I'd probably find the missing stamp the next day - as indeed I did. Maybe I should have asked for a packet of honey-mustard sauce, to make sure the stamps stick.

Speaking of which: the woman gave me two Subway stamps and a new Sub Club card for my trouble. When I got home, those stamps had STUCK to the card from being in my humid wallet! At least God's not totally against me - because the stamps are stuck on the right side.

Subway sandwich shops can appear in some unexpected places. The last time I drove through Richland, there was a Subway
along U.S. 280 -- in a town where I'm not sure any of the residents ever have ridden ON a subway.

And another thing I've been forgettng to ask the folks at Subway: who or what is a "Chipotle?" As in that "ooo-eee, that is nice and spicy" Southwest sauce? Is that the first name of the guy in the test kitchen who invented it?

(And why doesn't "Chipotle" rhyme with "bottle?" Did this sauce cost Subway a tie-in with the movie, "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle?")

Now for some leftovers, on things other than sandwiches:

+ About 50 people pleaded NOT guilty to being involved with a cockfighting ring in Taylor County. In that part of the state, it probably is easy to divide the birds for matches - by white meat and dark meat.

+ As I had my oil changed, I took a short walk on Victory Drive - and as I passed a used car lot, I happened to sneeze. Thankfully, a salesman did NOT race out and declare it a sale.

(Before you ask - I walked down Victory Drive to go to Spectrum. ONLY Spectrum. Really. Honest....)

+ I was surprised to hear Chuck McClure still doing editorials on WRCG radio. But have you noticed he ends each one by saying it's for WCGT-TV 16? He MUST be upset by the new owners running Don Imus in the morning.

+ Just before "News 3 at 6:00" tonight, WRBL showed a commercial for a "stool softener" - yes, right at dinner time. Nothing can get you out of the mood to eat corn on the cob quite like this....

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Are you a reader of this blog? If you are, please e-mail me. It gets lonely doing this by myself.

Burkard's Blog of Columbus, Georgia


I searched on the Internet, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. (Well, other than a 15-year-old high school student, and who knows how much he pays attention to the news?) So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for some six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own; no one has paid me to present theirs. Pressured, yes - but paid, no.


15 JUN 03: DADDY? OH.

We had a big Father's Day cake at church this weekend - but an Elder's wife took it home, one-third uneaten. I certainly wasn't going to take the first piece. It would have started rumors about my years of sin.

At church this weekend I wished two dads a happy Father's Day. One replied, "The same to you - WEEKEND, that is." It was the closest anyone's come in years to showing sympathy on me, for being single.

The older I get, the more awkward Father's Day becomes for me. I'm approaching age 45, and still not married. I'm not a father, either -- and you have to specify BOTH those things these days, so people don't get wrong ideas.

Father's Day becomes especially awkward when offers reach my mailbox with great discounts on men's clothing and gadgets. "Great Father's Day Gifts!" they say. So if I take advantage of these specials, does that make me a greedy, selfish jerk?

From what I see on TV talk shows, it's really not that hard to become a father. The tough part comes in denying it for years, until the paternity test results are announced.

My own Dad died a couple of years ago - and I don't think he ever really understood how serious I was about living my faith. Several years ago during a phone call, he actually encouraged me to "shack up" (my phrase, not his) with a woman. Of course, this was several years before the second wife HE did that with left him for another man....

I suppose I could do what Rosie O'Donnell and Calista Flockhart have done, and adopt a child. But I'm old-fashioned enough to think children should grow up with TWO parents at home. It increases the chances that one of them might actually set a good example.

The church I attend doesn't really encourage adoption - and the way it interprets the Bible, I shouldn't date anyone "outside the church." Given the small numbers in my congregation and the duties I have to do each week for the service, I'm left with our big church conference each fall to find someone. My "hunting season" is shorter than Georgia has for alligators.

But enough about my troubles - let's check other brief things from the weekend:

+ Callaway Gardens held its annual "Fly Fishing Weekend." Does this mean people go fishing for mosquitos? Or is there an award for the best-dressed fisherman - the one who's the most "fly?"

+ The Columbus Wardogs fell to Tennessee Valley, for their eighth loss in a row. If this keeps up, the only games you'll see in town with Coach John Fourcade will be at the AR-cade.

+ A car in a South Lumpkin Road parking lot had this sticker on the rear window: "I do what my Rice Crispies tell me to." I hope I'm not near this driver, on a day he's told to SNAP.



Saturday night's news brought a stunning announcement about Phenix City's future hospital. The Chief Executive of Ameris Health Systems has been fired - less than 48 hours after he announced the hospital's location! Those grumbling residents near the Fifth Avenue Extension must be more powerful than we thought.

An Ameris official explained the C.E.O. is required to live in Phenix City or Russell County, where the new hospital will be built - but the man only seemed interested in living in Columbus. Didn't this guy realize he merely had to drive across the river for better gas prices?

(Do you think there's something more to this than where the C.E.O. wants to live? Could, perhaps, the head man of Ameris be too amorous?)

The Ameris spokesman said the person in charge of the new Phenix City hospital must be "involved in the community." Apparently this company hasn't used the word "tri-community" used around here -- as in try to get along.

The next question should be obvious: what other Phenix City businesses and institutions require officials to live in town, and bar them from living in Columbus? A check of the phone book shows Phenix City school superintendent Tom Hackett DOES live inside the city -- and if anyone would have a valid reason to live in Columbus, he would.

Our quick phone book check found Columbus City Manager Carmen Cavezza even has a lake cabin inside the Columbus city limits. Next time you're shopping for dinner, demand nothing but Muscogee County fish! Anything from Troup County might have Atlanta's waste in it.

I've mentioned before here (22 May) my puzzlement over people who don't like to go to Phenix City. Maybe they're confused by the commercials they see on TV. The Lee County Flea Market is several miles outside town.

But back to the hospital: someone asked me the other day why Ameris is building a new hospital in the first place. Why not, she asked, lease the building where Phenix Regional used to be? I'm not sure if the company would save money - but potential patients like her would be walking distance from convenience stores with soda discounts.

Away from the 11:00 p.m. news, Bill Purvis declared during his "Real Time" sermon: "Sammy Sosa plays epic baseball." Given what's happened to Sosa lately, this'll teach that pastor to record his shows two weeks in advance....

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Burkard's Blog of Columbus, Georgia


I searched on the Internet, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. (Well, other than a 15-year-old high school student, and who knows how much he pays attention to the news?) So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for some six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own; no one has paid me to present theirs. Pressured, yes - but paid, no.



A Powerful Individual in the city of Columbus (hereafter known as P.I.C.) has informed us that this blog is upsetting some people. OK, let's get back to basics here. The last line in each of these items is supposed to be FUNNY....

The P.I.C. also informed us that an item on this blog upset the spouse of one of the people mentioned. It is certainly NOT our goal or intent to do that, and we apologize if we have. But then again, this P.I.C. needs to tell all late-night talk show hosts to stop doing it, too.

In addition, we were requested to keep the P.I.C.'s entity OUT of this blog. We're willing to honor that request - and in fact, this is a great idea. If you would like NOT to be mentioned here, e-mail us for the rates to join our "no-blog list." (We use PayPal.)

Come to think of it, we should have thanked the P.I.C. for those comments of "constructive criticism." At least it proves this blog is being read by somebody....

With that issue hopefully resolved: has your workplace gone to "online timesheets?" We know a business in Columbus which did it this week. It's doing away with its time clock, and having employees fill out their hours on a web site each week. Isn't this an amazing concept - managers actually trusting employees to be on the honors system?

Think with me here -- with an online timesheet, what can stop employees from fudging on their hours to gain some unearned extra money? If we're going to become high-tech about this, why not give all the staff members free video cell phones? Then make them turn the phones on and off at the entrance, to prove where they are.

(I don't know if The New York Times uses online timesheets. But if it did, Jayson Blair would have left that paper a millionaire.)

Speaking of online work: we received a call at home this week from the office of the Republican Congressional Committee in Washington. It offered us the chance to become "Honorary Chairman" of a local business advisory panel for the G.O.P. The REAL Chairman probably is a paid crony.

As part of this special offer, I was played a taped message from House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. He said I, the businessman, was no doubt burdened by "the complex tax code." Well, yes - but shouldn't I be telling Mayor Poydasheff to make the city business tax forms less confusing?

Tom DeLay's message also suggested I, the businessman, am saddled with a "high cost of health care" for my business. Well, no - I found a way around that. It's called no health insurance at all.

After Tom Delay's chat was finished, the female operator returned to the line and told us our Honorary Chairmanship position with a Republican advisory committee would include a "National Leadership Award." Considering my humor web site folded eight months ago, this would only cause a G.O.P. scandal.

Yes, there WAS a catch to this special Republican offer. The committee was putting together a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal, and my name could appear there to help pay for the ad -- for between $300 and $500. If I'm burdened by high health care costs, how could I possibly afford this?

Finally I explained to the operator my objections to the offer. My tax code problem is with the city. I have no health insurance. My web site was sold. In short, the Republicans would be giving a "National Leadership Award" to a classic dot-com failure.

Undaunted by my explanation, the G.O.P. operator offered to let me donate less money - and said the advisory committee meetings would be a great way to network, and get customers for my business. For WHAT business?! I was almost ready for a pitch to sell "I love Tom DeLay" T-shirts.

The Republicans did NOT find a customer in me on this day - and it's just as well. There's one big argument against the Honorary Chairman position I never mentioned to the operator. I'm not registered to vote.


Sunday, June 08, 2003


I searched on the Internet, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. (Well, other than a 15-year-old high school student, and who knows how much he pays attention to the news?) So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for almost six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own -- no one has paid me to present theirs. Not yet.



Part of Second Avenue downtown was blocked for awhile Saturday night, as police stopped cars so people could walk to the "Heritage Ball." In a Deep South city like Columbus, "heritage" means one of two things - and this one seemed to ean "white."

Guests apparently parked in the TSYS lot on the west side of Second Avenue, then crossed the road to the Heritage Ball in the front yard of an old home on the east side. The moneyed people get police to stop traffic, and help them across the street. The rest of us get a city permit for a block party IN the street.

(So why didn't they pitch a big tent and have the Heritage Ball IN the TSYS parking lot? Their nice shoes had to get muddy, after two days of rain....)

No, I was NOT invited to the Heritage Ball - where people wore fancy dresses and tuxedos. Apparently this blog is not yet on the status of a Marquette McKnight or Tim Chitwood column.

I encountered the Heritage Ball delay on my way to eat dinner at the "Old Mill Towne" restaurant on Warm Springs Road. The restaurant has been called Malone's at least twice in my six years in Columbus, and had another name I can't recall. This place changes names as much as Talbotton Road turns into Warm Springs, Gentian and Milgen.

At 8:45 p.m. Saturday night, there was NO waiting for a table at Old Mill Towne. In fact, parking places were easy to find. Maybe this restaurant should put an "Olive" in its name somewhere....

"My name's Rachel, and I'll be your server," she said at my table. A radio station program director in Kansas City taught me the proper way to respond to this. "OK, my name's Richard, and I'll be your customer."

I asked Rachel for a chicken breast platter - and as the menu promised, it came out sizzling. In fact, it was SO sizzling that I used the steam from the plate to disinfect my hands.

The platter with chicken, onions and red potatoes must have continued to sizzle for five minutes after hitting the table. Yet the woman who brought it out did NOT use potholders of any sort. Either she has tough hands, or she stands in the walk-in freezer first.

The Old Mill Towne dinner was quite good. And thanks to an "American Town Marketing" coupon, I enjoyed it for 20 percent off. Memo to WTVM: I'd use your "Big Blue" envelope of coupons if you mailed one to my zip code - or is this "Big Redlining?"

Wrapping up some other quick thoughts from Pentecost Weekend:

+ The play "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" was nominated for several Tony Awards in New York tonight. How thoughtful of them NOT to preview the production near the Ma Rainey house in Columbus (ahem)....

+ I watched the First Presbyterian Church Pentecost service on television this morning. Will someone tell the minister with a half-goatee he might want to take a break from TV, until it's fully grown?

+ Didya hear about the congregation that went to the beach to receive the Holy Spirit? It was Pente-COASTAL.

Friday, June 06, 2003



There's the Publishers' Clearing House sweepstakes - and then there's the "Publisher's Sweepstakes." The latter one is different. It called me at home Thursday evening for the second time, congratulating me for being a finalist at TWO different levels. I didn't claim a third level, though - because I didn't buy any magazines over the phone.

The Publisher's Sweepstakes promises to give away $1 million in late October. And somehow, the woman on the line said I could have a 40-percent magazine discount because I'd "used them before." Well, no - unless you define "using them" as talking to the last telemarketer.

Not only am I a finalist for $1 million, but the Publisher's Sweepstakes determined I was eligible for a "diamond watch" - AND four years of three different magazines, all at no charge. BUT I couldn't get the watch and the free subscriptions unless I subscribed to a weekly magazine. Considering two of my freebies were Car Craft and Esquire, this was only a good deal for the Postal Service.

The woman with the sweepstakes read a list of weekly magazines, and asked which one interested me. "And I have to PAY for this one?" I asked. "Well, allow me to explain...." she said - then asked if I had any hobbies or interests. Why do these callers expect direct answers from me, but they won't give any in return.

The weekly magazine subscriptions, the telemarketer explained, was "the only one we ask for assistance on." Assistance?!
Remember when this used to be called a payment?

At least this call from the Publisher's Sweepstakes ended peaceably. The first time this contest called, I had to ask twice to
confirm it was NOT the Publishers' Clearing House -- and I apparently asked so many questions, the man who called hung up on me! [True!] Will he be surprised when he never hears his voice on "Crank Yankers."

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Burkard's Blog of Columbus, Georgia


I searched on the Internet, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. (Well, other than a 15-year-old high school student, and who knows how much he pays attention to the news?) So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for almost six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own -- no one has paid me to present theirs. Not yet.



Memo to Doug Graham, wherever you are: Frank Myers still is talking about you. And no, he was NOT drunk when he talked - he's that glib with his tongue ALL the time at dinners and parties.

Attorney and Democratic Party spokes-official Frank Myers sat at one end of a long table Wednesday night at the El Vaquero restaurant near Cross-Country Plaza -- and he took charge of the situation. For starters, he tried to sign people up in a "Mega Millions" pool for Friday's $80 million drawing. By comparison, Republicans would tell you to get off the couch and buy a ticket yourself.

You may recall when Doug Graham was at WRCG Radio, he raised the question of how much Frank Myers influenced news coverage at WTVM. After all, Myers's wife is news anchor Cheryl Morgan. The strange thing is, Graham never asked about WRBL's news coverage being influenced by sportscaster Jack Rodgers' dad -- the Columbus Mayor Pro Tem.

(Even stranger: Doug Graham was still in town in March - when WTVM showed an entire half-hour of Governor Sonny Perdue's town hall meeting at the RiverCenter.)

Given this knowledge from last year, I wondered if I should even bring up Doug Graham's name during the dinner. But not to worry - Frank Myers did it first. "Doug Graham has a job opening now," he declared at the farewell bash for a WTVM news anchor. Somehow, methinks Graham would be more comfortable waiting for Al Fleming to retire from commentaries.

Frank Myers addressed all sorts of topics, as I dined on two nice chicken enchiladas with rice and refried beans - but I have to be careful here. This IS a public blog. And he IS an attorney, who knows how to file lawsuits....

Frank Myers revealed he's called the NEW host of WRCG's TalkLine, Russ Hollenbeck -- and actually thinks he's doing a good job. "He's much more balanced.... but the show is more boring." This is amazing! Even Democrats prefer to hear a talk show host ranting and raving.

Frank Myers also predicted Scott Peterson "is gonna walk" for the killing of Laci Peterson and her fetus/baby in California. When IS that defense lawyer going to blame the deaths on Eric Rudolph?

Frank Myers and Cheryl Morgan have a three-year-old daughter - and after dinner, she was allowed a few minutes of "energy time" between the tables at El Vaquero. She ran back and forth, and at Frank's urging went to other tables and said hello to customers. You can't start these future politicians on "pressing the flesh" too soon.

(Would my parents have let ME do that at a restaurant when I was three? Well, I vaguely recall trying to act as emcee of an event at the Odd Fellow's Lodge....)

El Vaquero near Cross-Country Plaza apparently is more of a political hotbed than I realized. As I walked in for dinner, I spotted former mayoral candidate Jed Harris making his way out. So the Democrats REALLY want the Hispanic vote in next year's election.

There's now a CiCi's Pizza shop down the street from El Vaquero. The sign outside Wednesday night offered a "holiday special." Holiday?!?! Well, some Christians WILL mark Pentecost this Sunday.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003



The big political news this week may be right under a State Senator's nose. Seth Harp has grown a moustache! Is he planning to buy a used car lot or something?

Sen. Seth Harp's moustache is a little hard to see at first, because it's as gray as the other hair on his head. You might even think it's a milk moustache - but we all know Harp doesn't have any dairy farmers in his district.

(Come to think of it, Rep. Calvin Smyre has a moustache. So maybe Seth Harp is trying to feel like a Democrat for a while.)

People who have lived in Columbus for awhile know facial hair is a BIG issue here. Newscaster Wayne Bennett had to shave off his moustache a year or two ago. Now Seth Harp may have lost any TV editorial endorsements for years to come.

What you may not know is that when Wayne Bennett was ordered to shave off his moustache, the News Director at WTVM had a full beard - and had worked with one for years. Within a few months, he resigned and moved to Tampa. Hmmmm - maybe it wasn't because of ailing relatives after all....

Which reminds me: didn't I see WRBL meteorologist Jeff Donald with a moustache for awhile, several months ago? It's a great forecasting tool, you know. If sweat drips off the moustache, it's hot. If there's ice on it, it's cold. And if you can see the skin underneath the hair, it's a windy day.

BLOG UPDATE: The TV newscaster I mentioned awhile back who was interested in the Auburn sportscasting job (18 May) now openly doubts he'll be selected. He suspects the University will "promote from within" - and I can't wait to hear Terry Bowden do play-by-play.

(Speaking of Auburn football: did you see the A.U. grad who had a big day for Frankfurt last Sunday, in N.F.L. Europe? The Fox announcers said opponents "fear Robert Baker." Maybe they saw his arrest record in Mobile.)

BIG PREDICTION UPDATE:Tuesday's post time doesn't lie! (Well, except it's in Pacific time.) Your blog called Amelia Vega, Miss Dominican Republic, as the winner of the Miss Universe pageant hours BEFORE the live telecast! If only I did as well dating 'em as picking 'em.

(Now if someone in Nevada will open a book on the Miss Georgia pageant....)

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Burkard's Blog of Columbus, Georgia


I searched on the Internet, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. (Well, other than a 15-year-old high school student, and who knows how much he pays attention to the news?) So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for almost six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own -- no one has paid me to present theirs. Not yet.



The rain came with a rush about 7:09 a.m. today. I heard the rush, woke up and closed my bedroom window - moments before the thunder came with a rush, and made me wish the window frame was wood instead of metal.

I'm struggling a bit to getting back to regular nightly sleep. A new 6:00 a.m. Producer is finally hired, and this week began putting the newscast together without my help. But when she described Monday morning with the words, "Slow descent into Hell," I was a touch concerned.

I kept the answering machine turned off Sunday night-Monday morning, in case the new Producer called with questions. But no call came - which I suppose is a good sign, since it meant she was praying to Someone better for help.

I've been getting other calls this week, though - and they're quite annoying. I pick up the phone after one ring, and after a long pause there's a ring and a recorded message as if I'M calling somebody. Is this BellSouth's strange way of getting "Caller I-D" customers?

The ring and recorded message also show up on my answering machine while I'm gone. Monday night I came home to find FIVE of them. It's almost as if someone thinks I invented the "TeleZapper."

(Maybe the calls are from an automatic ringer at a telemarketing firm. But I've asked before and I'll ask again - if their offers are SO good, why doesn't the person in the boiler room ever leave a message with a return phone number?)

Meanwhile, an off day went well - as I jumped on a one-week Wal-Mart special to buy a pair of athletic shoes for only TEN dollars. If this was a Payless special, the "over and under" for the shoes wearing out would be six months.

It turned out I bought two pairs of shoes - the athletic pair with the name "Jerry" on the box, and a pair of dress shoes named "Scott." I should have checked to see if Wal-Mart has cowboy boots named "Billy Bob."

I bought these shoes at the Wal-Mart SuperCenter which still hasn't found my roll of film. (24 Apr) I didn't bother asking about it at the photo counter today, because it had a line of customers during the noon hour. From the looks of this, it may be time to check Lee County landfills.

(Wal-Mart SuperCenters still feel very strange. I've never before held two full shoeboxes in my hands, then placing a bag of tortilla chips on top.)

BIG PREDICTION: On the issue I know is gripping so many readers of this blog - I pick Miss Dominican Republic to win tonight's Miss Universe pageant. No, you may NOT ask why. You also may NOT ask how I ranked the top five....

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Burkard's Blog of Columbus, Georgia



The Mass Media will watch Washington closely tomorrow. The Federal Communications Commission will vote on whether to allow TV networks to expand their ownership of media outlets. To get a head start on things: you can buy my blog today -- minimum bid $100,000.

Combined media ownership already is becoming a way of life in Columbus. For instance, WTVM and WXTX soon will be co-owned - and the way ABC's ratings are going, you may get to see the World Series and NFL games on "Fox-9" before long.

There also are "partnerships" between various news outlets in many cities. For instance, WTVM has one with Clear Channel radio - so if the radio news some mornings sounds suspiciously like what you read at, that's why.

WTVM also has a partnership with the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer - but that's not as tight a relationship. Why, my station hasn't even bothered to ask for the phone number of that reporter in Iraq.

WRBL's Blaine Stewart did a lengthy two-part report on the upcoming F.C.C. vote this past week. He went to Tampa, where a TV station shares a "News Center" with the Tampa Tribune newspaper and a combined web site. Considering that same media conglomerate owns both WRBL and the Opelika-Auburn News, I can't wait to see their fancy new headquarters in the middle of Smiths Station.

The WRBL report on Tampa's "News Center" seemed to go three minutes, and featured an extensive slickly-produced interview with WFLA-TV News Director Forrest Carr. Hmmm - whose desk do you think will see THAT reporter's tape in the next few weeks?

By comparison, Blaine Stewart's interview with an Auburn University journalism professor didn't seem nearly as long - and included a clip of Stewart anchoring the news at his old station in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. If I wanted to read Stewart's life story, I'd click on "biographies" at the WRBL web site.

It turns out Blaine Stewart's entire news department in Mississippi lost their jobs a few years ago in a budget-cutting move. He implied Monday's F.C.C. vote could bring more of this. But I have an old ratings report for Hattiesburg - and from what I can tell, only a few dozen people noticed when that news staff was fired.

(What else could Blaine Stewart have been implying here? As I recall, his News Director in Hattiesburg is NOW his News Director at WRBL - so is he expecting history to repeat itself?)

If this was not enough, Blaine Stewart anchored the 11:00 p.m. news at WRBL Saturday night - and illustrated a report about cleaning up your computer by bringing HIS newsroom keyboard onto the set, to show it off! It's a good thing he didn't bring out his monitor, because it probably has mirrors attached for self-admiration.

But no, Blaine Stewart didn't stop there. Moments later, he reminded WRBL's viewers: "I am the Senior Consumer Investigator at News 3!" Next thing you know, we'll learn Stewart is related to the old Iraqi Information Minister.

The bottom line of all this: I suppose we should be worried about Big Media controlling more and more outlets - but I'm also a bit concerned about Big Egos thinking they control them as well.

(By the way, in all this speculation about media buying binges I've missed something. Who's trying to buy the Drudge Report?)

Now to play some catch-up from a busy late spring weekend....

+ At 10:45 a.m. Sunday, the Columbus Dunkin Donuts shop had a line stretching out the door. They simply did NOT make that new Cracker Barrel restaurant big enough, did they?

+ I had dinner Saturday night at a Subway shop - and I thanked the woman behind the counters for warning me about the olives. Right now the sign outside says, "Our olives have a hole in them." I certainly don't want to eat anything that's defective.

(What IS the point of the Subway signs lately - saying things such as, "Our tomatoes are round" ?! I've yet to see one grocery store with a tomato shaped like a pyramid.)

+ My six-game bowling coupon run ended with a not-half-bad-for-me 96 at Peach Bowl. But the center had quite a change between Sunday and Friday - as all the seats near the lanes were ripped out, with folding chairs in their place. Is this a special bowling edition of "Trading Spaces" or something?

Burkard's Blog of Columbus, Georgia


I searched on the Internet, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. (Well, other than a 15-year-old high school student, and who knows how much he pays attention to the news?) So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for almost six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own -- no one has paid me to present theirs. Not yet.



I went to two different worship services today - and they went a combined 90 minutes. Attention Deficit Disorder is starting to affect our churches....

Service #1 was at my usual congregation. During the second verse of the first song, the power went out in the hall! Yet we finished the three-stanza song - and the song leader praised us for "enduring to the end." But then again, he stopped the service at that point for a break.

(We were able to finish the song because we use an upright piano for our accompaniment. For some of you younger readers -- that's what people used BEFORE electronic keyboards.)

With only an emergency light in the back shining inside the hall, the "men in charge" of the congregation quickly huddled to decide what to do. No, I was NOT one of these people. Single guys get about as much respect in my church denomination as they do in President Bush's tax cuts.

We meet for church in a metal building with no windows, and only two doors outside. So we opened the doors, and moved the lectern over in front of a door. Some churches would have had a revival tent ready, for occasions like this.

The Presiding Elder gave a sermonette - but we were planning to watch a video sermon, and we couldn't because of the outage. And here I thought the Holy Spirit gave us POWER for these situations....

The Pastor was out of town this weekend, on a "working vacation" in Seattle. That means he gave two messages - and,
well, maybe kept his mouth shut the rest of the week?!?!

With no Pastor and no power, we followed the sermonette with announcements, one more song and a closing prayer. None of the "men in charge" apparently had a back-up sermon ready. Too bad they didn't ask me, because I have several just waiting for someone to hear - even if they don't want to hear them.

Total time of service #1: 30 minutes. Someone said to me afterward it was "like some Baptist churches." Apparently that guy believed the half-hour of time Baptist churches buy on TV and radio is really their entire service.

What my regular congregation doesn't know (ssshhh!) is that I now have a back-up plan for worship. Cascade Hills Baptist Church now has Saturday evening services at 6:00 p.m. So if the preacher decides to preach for an hour on the evils of the Democratic Party - and sometimes I think my Pastor might....

I drove home between services for some Bible study - and let the record show, I DID turn on my air conditioner for the first time this season. It was comforting to know it still worked after sitting idle for eight months. It was more comforting to know no roaches were rushed out of hiding, when I turned it on.

Service #2, as I say, was at Cascade Hills - and if you've ever seen this church's Saturday night telecast, you know it's a different kind of church. Sad to say, some nights their presentation at 11:00 p.m. is more polished than the two late local newscasts.

I entered the Cascade Hills "worship center" at about 5:50 p.m. - and two big video screens above the seats had a countdown clock running, along with film of people surfing. For a minute, I thought they were having guest Polynesian singers from T.B.N.

The countdown clock was heading for a service time of exactly 6:00 p.m. - but twice, someone shuttled the tape backward
in the final minute to about the two-minute point. Maybe this is somewhat like what God did, when some preachers predicted Jesus would return in 1975 or 1988.

A side note here: on my one previous Saturday visit to Cascade Hills, we were welcomed formally at 6:00 p.m. by Brent Tanamachi. He used to do news and sports reporting at WRBL. He's now the church's "College Pastor" - and probably is steering journalism majors toward more respectable careers.

On this Saturday night, a worship team sang and played a rather rocking secular number to start the service. I wasn't familiar with it at all - but thankfully, the words of the song were on the video screen. Cascade Hills apparently takes the "interpreting of tongues" seriously.

One of the worship singers said after the first song Cascade Hills is "not the kind of church you're used to." I could have told them that the minute I walked in the door - because I was the only person in the building wearing a tie, much less a sportscoat.

I happened upon a special Saturday night at Cascade Hills, as children in the church's youth league baseball program were on hand in their uniforms. The players on the A's, Braves, Rangers and Yankees stood up for applause. I could tell it was a Protestant Baptist church, because no team was named the Padres or the Brewers.

(Wait a minute - the YANKEES? At a church in Columbus, Georgia?!?! This must be their way of reaching out to other ethnic groups.)

After the young baseball players were honored, a worship singer urged the children to "be very still" during the upcoming sermon. In my usual congregation, the leaders don't have to make such comments - because parents who don't keep their children quiet risk getting singled out during the service, on the spot.

Finally it was Cascade Hills sermon time - and Pastor Bill Purvis didn't wear a robe. Not even a tie. He wore a colorful summer shirt, and white casual-looking slacks. No wonder he didn't tell the boys to take off their ball caps to pray to God....

Bill Purvis apparently realized this service would have a lot of first-timers and visitors - because he admitted some people are turned off by organized religion. "We're DIS-organized, for a purpose," he said. I was tempted to test that statement - and walk down the aisle to finish his sermon.

(This quote brought back a flashback of my high school days. I used to borrow a Will Rogers line and told people, "I don't belong to an organized religion. I'm United Methodist." If only a tenor in our madrigal group hadn't bothered to bring up that quote, when we sang at a church supper....)

As glib as Bill Purvis is and as practical as his sermons are, his message struck out with me on this night. After all, doesn't God WANT organization and order in His church? Otherwise, one week they might forget to pass around the offering plate.

The tithes and offerings came at the very end of the Cascade Hills service - after the sermon and an invitation hymn. If the
Pastor couldn't persuade people to turn over their lives to God, at least you felt compelled to turn over SOMETHING.

The crowd of people went on after the 60-minute Cascade Hills service to the nearby "Sportatorium," for a youth baseball barbecue. I did NOT go to this for two reasons: 1) I wasn't involved in the sports program. 2) This church is known for its "wild game
suppers," so who knows what the barbecue sauce is covering.

As I walked to my car, I received a big surprise - as I was greeted by my landlord. He asked if I attend Cascade Hills regularly. I told him I didn't - and probably blew a chance to cut my monthly rent by 10 percent.

The parking lot drivers were so focused on moving to the Sportatorium that I couldn't get out of my spot for five minutes. Finally a driver motioned for me to go - proving at least ONE adult in this church understands how to show mercy to others.